New sher­iff says he’s a cop, not a politi­cian

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa J. Huri­ash, Stephen Hobbs and Rafael Olmeda

Gre­gory Tony on Fri­day took the reins of the Broward Sher­iff ’s Of­fice in the shadow of one of the bleak­est chap­ters in the com­mu­nity’s his­tory, and im­me­di­ately de­clared, “I’m here to serve.”

With all eyes on him, the new sher­iff in­tro­duced him­self as any­thing but a politi­cian.

“I am not here for any type of po­lit­i­cal grandiose agenda,” he said. “I’m here to serve. I’m here to pro­vide you with the best lead­er­ship I can pro­vide.”

Tony, 40, a Coral Springs po­lice vet­eran who lives in Boca Ra­ton, was ap­pointed to lead the Sher­iff’s Of­fice af­ter Gov. Ron DeSan­tis sus­pended Scott Is­rael amid heavy crit­i­cism over the agency’s re­sponse to the mas­sacre at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High. Tony had noth­ing but praise for the agency and its em­ploy­ees.

One of the most vo­cal of the griev­ing Park­land par­ents was a driv­ing force be­hind Tony’s ap­point­ment. An­drew Pol­lack, whose daugh­ter Meadow was one of the 17 mur­der vic­tims, said Tony’s was among the names he asked DeSan­tis to con­sider to re­place Is­rael, whose lead­er­ship was crit­i­cized af­ter the mass shoot­ing.

Pol­lack said Fri­day that he and Tony met at a Cross­Fit gym in Coral Springs about eight years ago. “The guy’s not into pol­i­tics,” Pol­lack said. “He’s just a lawen­force­ment-type of guy. … I’m go­ing to help him. I’m go­ing to make sure he suc­ceeds. What­ever has to be done and who­ever has to get around Greg Tony, the sher­iff, we’re go­ing to make it hap­pen and we’re go­ing to make it suc­cess­ful. We’re go­ing to bring back morale to BSO.”

Tony is a Philadel­phia na­tive who at­tended Tallahassee Com­mu­nity Col­lege be­fore trans­fer­ring to Florida State Univer­sity.

At Florida State, Tony earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in crim­i­nol­ogy and crim­i­nal jus­tice in 2002.

Be­fore join­ing the Coral Springs Po­lice Depart­ment in 2005, Tony worked briefly for the Depart­ment of High­way Safety and Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles, deal­ing with con­tracts. He also worked with the state’s Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions, work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion for in­mates. In job ap­pli­ca­tions, he ad­mit­ted try­ing mar­i­juana as a teenager.

In Coral Springs, he was on the SWAT team for five years and worked in nar­cotics in­ves­ti­ga­tion, bur­glary in­ves­ti­ga­tion and street in­tel­li­gence. He held the rank of sergeant for three years, leav­ing Coral Springs Po­lice in 2016.

He de­scribed his ca­reer as one of pub­lic ser­vice “in the dark, away from the pub­lic light, sim­ply do­ing my job to en­force the laws of this great state.”

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lic records, he has been reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat and as a Repub­li­can at dif­fer­ent points in his life. The most re­cent in­for­ma­tion from Palm Beach County lists him as a mem­ber of the GOP.

Tony left the Coral Springs depart­ment to fo­cus full-time on his busi­ness, Blue Spear So­lu­tions, which he started in 2015, while he was still at the po­lice depart­ment. Blue Spear So­lu­tions pro­vides train­ing to pre­pare for ac­tive-shooter and mass ca­su­alty in­ci­dents, and pro­vides threat as­sess­ments on schools and other busi­nesses.

His com­pany cre­ated the first on­line cur­ricu­lum for bleed­ing-con­trol train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to teach peo­ple how to re­spond in a mass ca­su­alty sit­u­a­tion, he told the South Florida Sun Sen­tinel this week.

“Our train­ing plat­form is be­ing used by thou­sands of peo­ple from across the world and we wish to ed­u­cate our own schools rapidly,” he said.

Tony runs the com­pany with his wife, Holly, a reg­is­tered nurse. They mar­ried in 2006. On the day of the Stone­man Dou­glas shoot­ing, Tony took to his com­pany’s Face­book page to ex­press his thoughts.

“My pas­sion for de­vel­op­ing ac­tive shooter train­ing for civil­ians was de­rived from years of re­ceiv­ing some of the best train­ing made avail­able at this [Coral Springs] depart­ment,” he said. “It’s heart­break­ing to know that our com­mu­nity was im­pacted in such a man­ner. Like many, I hoped this day would never come.”

Last Au­gust, Tony and his com­pany con­ducted a work­shop train­ing hun­dreds of school per­son­nel in Tran­syl­va­nia, N.C., on stop­ping bleed­ing dur­ing an ac­tive shooter in­ci­dent, ac­cord­ing to the Tran­syl­va­nia Times news­pa­per and a pro­mo­tional video from the com­pany.

Dur­ing the news con­fer­ence in­tro­duc­ing him Fri­day, Tony was her­alded as the right per­son to bring “ac­count­abil­ity” to a depart­ment still smart­ing from crit­i­cism over how deputies re­sponded to the Park­land mas­sacre.

Tony’s ex­pe­ri­ence with ac­tive-shoot­ing train­ing and school-safety pro­grams res­onated with DeSan­tis and par­ents of vic­tims killed at the school.

“You couldn’t have any­one who would be more tai­lor-made for this po­si­tion,” DeSan­tis said dur­ing his re­marks.

In ad­di­tion to Pol­lack, other par­ents joined in of­fer­ing their ex­pec­ta­tions for the job they want to see Tony do.

Ryan Petty, who is serv­ing on the state com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­gat­ing the shoot­ing, said he had mul­ti­ple con­ver­sa­tions with Tony this week be­fore the an­nounce­ment. “I’m ex­cited about who he is and what he brings,” Petty said. “I know he will make sure the poli­cies are right, there’s ef­fec­tive train­ing and ev­ery deputy has the equip­ment they need to be a pro­fes­sional law en­force­ment agency.”

Af­ter Fri­day’s news con­fer­ence, Lori Al­had­eff, whose daugh­ter was killed at the school, said there needs to be proper train­ing and ac­count­abil­ity brought to the Sher­iff’s Of­fice, be­cause “a lack of train­ing for deputies led to the death of my daugh­ter.” She added, “I think Greg Tony will do an out­stand­ing job.”

Those who’ve worked with Tony said the new gov­er­nor made a sound choice.

“He’s a fan­tas­tic guy, great char­ac­ter, we hated to see him go,“said Coral Springs Chief Clyde Parry, who was Tony’s boss when he re­signed from the force. “I think if he was still here, he would be a lieu­tenant or maybe a cap­tain. He had a bright fu­ture, he re­ally did.”

Gre­gory Tony

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.